Posts Tagged ‘how to’

Helping from a distance.

My Mom lives in Ontario, and has been asking me for help on her bedroom makeover. Obviously I have spent a lot of time at my Mom’s house, and yet I still found it difficult to remember the exact colours she used throughout her home. Why? Shouldn’t a colour consultant have perfect colour memory? Well although I feel that I do have a heightened colour experience the fact is “colour-memory” is short! That means it’s almost impossible for someone (even an expert) to look at a colour chip display and pick the exact match for a colour in their memory.

This is why it’s important to take your colours with you when you are out shopping. And a photo isn’t good enough; there are too many factors that affect the colours in a picture (e.g. the room’s lighting, the camera’s flash, the ink used to print the picture or the display screen’s settings, etc). So, when you’re browsing paint chips for your master bedroom bring your bedding (or at least the pillow shams) with you.

So once my Mom decided on her bedding, I needed to see it so that I could make suggestions for wall colours. Fortunately, big box stores allow Mom and I to look at many of the same products in our own respective cities.

I selected Cement Gray 2112-60 for my Mom’s walls. It’s a soft grey with subtle mauve undertones that harmonize with the purple embroidery on the bedding. Mom tested the colour on her walls and it looked too purple. My Dad was horrified, how could his only daughter suggest he should sleep in a purple room?!?

In the room’s unique lighting the subtle mauve was not so subtle. This is why it is so important to test a paint colour on your walls! And why I offer colour consultations in-home. Every space has its own unique lighting finger print that cannot be predicted 2000 km away, and can’t be predicted in a store either.

My Mom then tried a second choice, Stonington Gray HC-170, and was able to achieve the soft gray tone she was expecting from the first option.

Defining colour can sometime be like trying to catch a cloud and pin it down. Because lighting conditions are unique to your location, so is the way you perceive colour. This challenge is what I love about being a colour consultant, and it’s also what causes such frustration for my clients (and my Mom). Bringing a sample of the colour with you can help predict the colour’s shift, but you have to see the colour, on your wall, in your space, to pin the cloud!

My Mom went shopping.

And like many people she found lots of choices. So I wasn’t surprised when she came back to me with two COMPLEATLY different bedding styles to inspire her bedroom makeover.

The first one had lots of colours, but it was VERY floral. My Mom chooses it because the colours were right, but the style wasn’t. This is a mistake a lot of people make. Colour is a VERY powerful driver, that’s why it is so heavily relied on in marketing (quick, what colour is a Coke…easy right!). So when we see the colours we are looking for, we buy! But colour isn’t always a good indication of style.

The second option was more my Mom’s style. A simple feather graphic embroidered into the comforter. I was impressed she went out of her comfort zone with the colour. It was a rich navy blue. Now we could start picking wall colours…

Well… we could have… but Mom needed to ask EVERYONE what they thought of her choices. Not surprisingly she got a lot of different opinions. It rattled her confidence in her choice. She has informed me she is going to take both bedding choices back to the store and start again.

Her mistake was asking too many people their option. You should only ask people who are directly affected by the decision, or those whose decorating style you like (i.e. a professional decorator, or you’re stylish BFF). So my Dad definitely deserves a say in how his bedroom looks, but her entire book-group (who will never see her bedroom) shouldn’t be asked for input.

Better luck next time Mom.

Working with Mom; My Most Challenging Client

When people ask me about clients that I’ve found challenging my Mom is the first person who come to mind. I love her, but for most of our lives the expert balance has been tipped in her favor (she really did know better than me when I was 16, but don’t tell her that). So now that I have acquired knowledge in an area outside of her expertise I think it’s hard for her to trust that I’m right. When I answer her decorating questions, she always gets a second opinion to test if I’m right. She was shocked when she went into her local Benjamin Moore store and they repeated the same advice I had given her!

Now she is redecorating her bedroom and has asked for my advice. I advised her to go shopping for some inspirational bedding. When re-designing your bedroom, it’s always best to start with the bedding. It’s easier to match the thousands of paint colours to your bedding than it is to choose a paint colour and then force it to work with the linen options in the stores. Trust me, I’ve tried!

Happy Shopping Mom!

When in doubt, call an expert! A colour consultation could be the answer you’re looking for.

As a colour consultant for Benjamin Moore Southpointe I’d be glad to come by your house to help you select the perfect colour for your painting project. It’s more affordable than most expect and includes up to an hour and half of my time. During this time I will help you decide on a colour pallet for your whole home. Furthermore, I often have ample time to answer other decorating concerns you have such as ideas for window treatments, furniture placement or flooring options.
By being in your house I can evaluate your home’s unique lighting, flooring and furnishings. This gives me a personalized perspective on your style and design goals, from which we can work to find the best colour solutions to create your dream space.
As part of the experience I will create a full write up. You will get a portfolio you will be able to use as a reference guide so you can decorate on your own timeline and at your own pace.
Call or email me today to find out more, or to book your appointment.
Stacey Severs

Spring Deck Prep

Spring has sprung, time to fire up the BBQ, get the lawn chairs out and…

Easy there, not so fast…

With a bit of time spent now, you will be able to enjoy your deck for years, and be proud of it as well.

Our winters here in southern Alberta tend to be harsh, with 2 feet of snow piling up, than Chinooks coming along and melting all the snow and the cycle repeats itself over and over.

These freeze thaw cycles take their tolls on our decks but with the right maintenance routine it can be kept in check.

What I like to do with my deck every spring has been the same routine for years now…

First off, remove all planters, furniture, BBQ equipment etc. With the deck completely cleared I do an initial quick sweeping and removal of any leaves and dirt that has blown onto it over the winter months. After this initial cleaning, I examine the deck thoroughly for surface wear, cracked or cupped boards, and loose screws or nail pops are taken care of. This step is vital in assessing and solving any problems well before the deck gets put back into use.

After all repairs are made, it’s time to give it a thorough cleaning. Right before cleaning, be sure to heavily water any nearby plants, and use plenty of drop clothes and poly to protect any nearby surfaces or plants. Ever wonder what three of the greatest causes of exterior deck coating failures are? In my opinion I place the blame squarely upon Dirt, Weathering, and Mill-Glaze. Fortunately with proper preparation you can take care of all of these problems. For new, weathered or unfinished wood decks there are several commercially available products for cleaning decks that all work well, however one basic solution I like to use is, 4 ounces of TSP, 1 Quart of household bleach, and 3 quarts of water. This solution when applied to the wood and kept wet for 15-20 minutes with a good scrubbing from a synthetic bristle brush is great at removing all the dirt, mildew spores and dead wood cells. Basic safety precautions should always be followed, be sure to follow all manufactures recommendations and warnings. Thoroughly rinse, ideally with a pressure washer, be sure to keep the nozzle at least 12 inches from the surface to avoid damaging the wood.

Once the deck has been washed and allowed a couple of days to dry, this is a good time to do another inspection. Depending on what type of finish you are intending on using, you can do the following tests; if it is a penetrating stain or finish, flick water onto the boards, if the water beads up, you know you will have to sand it. If water can’t absorb into the boards, I can guarantee you that stain will not absorb. You see, most transparent and translucent stains are like lotions for the wood, they need to soak in and they become what we often call sacrificial coatings, they simply wear by erosion and you never get peeling or flaking, it simply fades away. The key thing to remember with transparent or translucent stains, is that they will allow you to be able to see thru them to what is underneath, so if there is any remnants of previous coatings or dark stains on the wood you will be able to see them. If this is a concern you can either choose a darker stain to try and hide it or go to a solid stain. If you are using a solid stain, which is a great product to use if the boards are fairly worn and discoloured, it is important to remember that no matter what product anyone sells you it is going to stick to what is there and if what is there isn’t peeling and flaking and it isn’t firmly attached than it is simply going to come off as well. All loose peeling and flaking existing coatings have to be removed. If the previous coating is firmly attached than it won’t be as much of a concern. If the deck is dirty or the dust from sanding isn’t removed than the coating sticks to the dirt and dust and it will peel as well.

Sanding of the deck is almost always the recomended choice of prepping the deck for a new stain. As a general guideline vertical surfaces should be sanded with 80-120 grit, and horizontal surfaces should be sanded with 60-80 grit. ALWAYS sand in direction of the wood grain.

Getting the right products, and right tools for your project is easy when you deal with your local, independent paint store!

Above all and most importantly… Be sure to follow all recomendations and precautions on the label of whichever product you choose to use!

How to Paint Circles / Polka Dots

Circles and polka-dots are presently very trendy for kid’s bedrooms, and are very easy to do. (I promise it’s very easy; I was able to get it done in an evening with my 2 year old helping.)

 The first step is to find a template for your circles.  Look around the house.  I wanted large dots so I used the lid to our garbage can (cleaned up, of course).  Depending on the size you want you could use dinner plates, a paint can lid, drinking glasses, anything with a smooth circular edge.  Here’s a list of the other material you’ll need.

 Material List

  • ¼ inch painter’s tape
  • 2 inch painter’s tape
  • Paint brush
  • 4 inch roller
  • Pencil
  • Tape Measure
  • Circle template (i.e. something to trace)

 Next measure where on the wall you want your circles… or create a random pattern (this would look great with 2 or 3 different size circles). Place your template on the wall and trace it with your pencil.

Trace your template, then outline with 1/4 inch tape.

Trace your template, then outline with 1/4 inch tape.

The most important step is taping around the pencil line.  Use ¼ inch tape. This tape will easily curve with the line, and you should be able to tape around the entire circle with one long piece. The next step is to add 2 inch tape around the circle to bulk up your tape line (so that it’s easier to stay inside the line).  Rip off pieces around 4 inches long and tape them on a tangent around your ¼ inch tape.

Seal the tape edge with the background colour paint.

Seal the tape edge with the background colour paint.

To ensure you get a clean crisp paint edge, the next step is to paint over the tape edge with the background paint colour.  By doing this, you ensure that any bleeding that happens under the tape will be the colour of the wall; it will seal the tape so your circle colour won’t bleed through.

Use a 4 inch roller to paint your circles. Then remove the tape while the paint is still wet.

Use a 4 inch roller to paint your circles. Then remove the tape while the paint is still wet.

The last and easiest step is to paint the circle your desired colour. Use a paint brush for smaller circles, and a 4 inch roller for larger dots. Remove your tape while the last coat is still wet. The results will be a perfect circle with crisp clean paint lines.


Finished Circle with clean crisp edges.

-by Stacey Severs

Unify a room by painting all the furniture the same colour

furniture (cityline)Furniture can take up a lot of visual colour space in a room, especially large wood pieces such as found in the bedroom or dining room.  When wood tones are miss-matched in a room it can make the space feel unfinished.  One simple solution is to paint all the furniture the same colour, as pointed out in this month’s Style at Home (March 2010, pg 34).

I know painting wood scares some people (especially the male portion of the population), but sometimes it’s the best solution. It’s also cheaper than buying something new.

Your existing furniture that just doesn’t fit with your new decorating plan can be incorporated into the plan with a new colour.  Also second hand furniture can live a new life with a fresh coat of paint. 

Choosing the right colour can transform the wrong style into the perfect piece. Imagine painting an ornate Baroque-style* hutch in a hot colour like Tangelo 2017-30, Tequila Lime 2028-30 or Hot Lips 2077-30.  The hutch would be transformed into a modern hip piece! 

If the same hutch was painted a cream such as Hepplewhite Ivory HC-36, it would fit in with a country style decor.

To coordinate an older piece with newer espresso stained furniture try painting it Bittersweet Chocolate 2114-10.  For a trendy colour choose Ranchwood CC-500; this colour furniture would look great in a monochromatic grey room. The classic choice for painting furniture white is Cloud White CC-40.

The steps to painting your piece are easy.  First clean the surface with TSP.  Next gently sand. Priming is the most important step; use a highly adhesive primer such as Fresh Start from Benjamin Moore.  Next apply two coats of paint in your chosen colour.  Be sure to use a higher sheen such as Pearl, Satin or Semi Gloss, to ensure the finish stands up to impact and abrasion from everyday use. Lastly, enjoy you’re now put-together space!

 *The value of a genuine antique should ALWAYS be considered before painting it.  However, if it’s gathering dust in the basement it’s of no value to you anyway, and painting it could bring it back into use in your home, adding true value to the piece. 

-by Stacey Severs

Why is getting the right colour so important?

Because colour affects us: emotionally, physically and psychologically. This means that the colours we use in our homes affect our lives. Using a pleasing colour can put you in a good mood, and start your day off right. Feeling good in your home allows you to go out into the world with confidence, and when you come home from a challenging day you can recharge in a comfortable environment.

Colour is a personal expression of yourself.  What do you want your home to say about you? How do you want your home to inspire you?  By choosing the right colour, you can control how colour is affecting you.

So how do you choose the right colour? Using a professional colour consultant can take a lot of the guess work out of choosing colour.  A colour consultant can help you use colour to create the desired mood for your home.  Words like welcoming, warm, relaxing and comfortable can be translated into colours like Great Plains, Greenfield Pumpkin, Mount Saint Anne and Herbes De Provence.  Colour consultants will also assess the other colours existing in your home to help you create flow and continuity in your space. Contact your local Benjamin Moore Store to book a consultation.

If choosing a colour yourself then the best method is trial and error. Start with LOTS of chips from your local Benjamin Moore Store. Remember to look at the colour in isolation, if the colour is on a strip with other samples use scissors to remove it. Narrow your selection to your top 3 or 4 colours. Now it’s time to try the colour on the wall.  (You try on jeans before you buy them, it’s just as important to try on colour.) Benjamin Moore has testers of paint in every colour available for you to take home and paint on your wall. Look at the painted samples throughout the day to see the colour in different lights (i.e. day light vs. night time artificial light).  Then make you final decision. Try not to over think it and go with your gut instinct.

-by Stacey Severs


Staining a Fiberglass Door

How to stain a Fiberglass door

Calgary South Decorating and SouthPointe Paint & Decor recommend Old Masters gel stain for easiest of use and best results. Old Masters is able to provide you with a richer and more vibrant colour however it is always important to remember that composite wood surfaces don’t nearly absorb as much as wood so therefore expect that the color may be a shade or so lighter than the manufactures sample.

Now for some of the steps that will help the job go smoother

  • Always try to work in a dust free, well ventilated area
  • If at all possible, remove the door and lay flat on sawhorses if you can.
  • Remove all hardware, weather stripping, and door knobs, and if you can’t remove it, mask it!
  • Be sure to trim, and or scrape away any factory sealant seeping out between the window trim and glass.
  • Clean the door with a mild detergent, rinse thoroughly or wipe down with a dampened with mineral spirits if it is not soiled heavily. Allow to dry.
  • Fill and sand any holes scrapes, dings with appropriate filler.
  • Never apply out in direct sunlight, when surface temperature exceeds those recommended by the manufacturer.
  • If there is wood sides, a light sanding and than applying a sanding sealer will keep them from going much darker than the front and back of the door.

As well before you begin it is always handy to have the following supplies:

  • Natural bristle brushes
  • Mineral spirits
  • Sandpaper
  • Tack cloth
  • Foam brushes
  • Gloves
  • Lint free rags
  • Heavy paper towels
  • Gel stain
  • Good quality exterior polyurethane
  • Safety glasses

When staining a door it is also important to do a test sample if at all possible, to ensure colour satisfaction. This is often done on the top edge, hinge edge or bottom edge. Once again if a sample isn’t done, be forewarned the color will most likely be lighter than the sample provided by the manufacturer.

As always it is important to follow manufacturer’s recommendations with the use of their products.

First off

  • Stir the stain well. This is important to ensure product colour and consistency.
  • Using a two inch foam brush, apply a liberal coat of stain to one of the raised panels. Be sure to work the stain well into the embossed grain pattern. Be sure to get the product into all corners and crevices.
  • With a clean rag, carefully remove the excess stain from the area coated. Wiping in the direction of the grain flow but be careful not to pull all the stain from the grain embossed in the fiberglass.
  • Remove any lap marks or streaks by gently brushing with the bristle brush, feathering in any areas to blend it all naturally.
  • Repeat this step for all the raised panels than do the verticals between the raised panels, than the horizontals and finally the two outer edges.


Controlling the color.

  • One way to control the colour is by adjusting the amount of colour you apply. When you apply more, it will become darker, less lighter. A key thing to remember is that you can always apply more. However if it is too dark it can be rectified but it is a little tougher. What you do is simply wipe the door down with a rag soaked in the solvent recommend by the manufacturer. In the case of Old Masters Gel Stain that would be Mineral Spirits.
  • Be sure you are satisfied with the colour before proceeding to applying the topcoat. Once the topcoat is applied, refinishing the stain can become quite difficult.


Protecting your door.

  • Wait at least 8 hours and sometimes up to 24 hours depending on drying conditions before top coating your door.
  • Referring to the directions on the can of polyurethane you are using, apply a minimum to two coats in the same sequence as the stain application.
  • Make sure if it is the exterior of the door, a premium grade exterior clear coat is used.


Important: when using oil soaked rags there is always a chance for spontaneous combustion if left piled up in a warm place. Store rags in a tightly sealed container filled with water, or hang up/lay flat to dry and than dispose.